The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) had reviewed and analysed evidence from the 2014/15 performance year, and the Committee received the overall evaluation of the Vale of Glamorgan Social Services along with evidence of areas of progress and areas for improvement.


The Regional Director began the presentation by advising Members that this was the culmination of a year's work which had included the reviewing of performance indicators along with consideration of reports by the Director and Heads of Services. The evaluation had also included a number of short site visits and also the use of other regulatory inspection reports.


In terms of Adult Services, the Area Manager advised Members that the CSSIW had noted the Council's work around the key national priority for preventative and early intervention services. A number of aspects had been highlighted through the evaluation and these included the role of the Customer Contact Centre and the prioritisation to support independence and reablement where possible. The CSSIW had recognised the reduction in the time to deliver a Disabled Facilities Grant, which had reduced from 214 days to 198 days. The CSSIW had also noted that the Council's first Extra Care Scheme had been created through the Golau Caredig facility in Barry, which had a 100% occupancy rate.


In meeting the other key national priority, which was around the integration of services for older people with complex needs, the CSSIW had determined that the Council remained a strong leader on a number of integration and partnership initiatives. In addition, it was noted that the integrated discharge policy had now been implemented.


The CSSIW's evaluation had also outlined three areas of improvement. These included the requirement to improve the rate of care plan reviews and to increase the promotion of direct payments for service users of the Community Mental Health Team. The Service would also need to find a solution with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board around the conclusion of a single point of contact for the Community Mental Health Team.


For Children's Services, the CSSIW again had considered how the Council was meeting the key national priority around prevention and early intervention. It had noted that the expansion phase for Flying Start had been completed along with the work of the Families Achieving Change Together Team and the Integrated Family Support Team.


In relation to the national priorities around Looked After Children, the CSSIW had found that a number of children looked after in the Vale had remained relatively stable and that the Council's strategy to improve permanence arrangements was good. The CSSIW had identified that the Council was committed to recruiting additional foster carers in order to reduce its reliance on independent foster placements. This had involved investment in the recruitment of additional foster carers with nine new foster carers approved during the year, which exceeded the Council's recruitment target of six.


The Council had also continued to lead on the Regional Adoption Collaborative, which was made up of four Councils including the Vale of Glamorgan Council, the City of Cardiff Council, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. Within the Vale of Glamorgan, eleven children had been adopted and a further eight placed for adoption during 2014-15.


Identified areas of progress from the previous inspection included the continuation with the strategy for ensuring the best outcomes for Looked After Children, particularly in terms of permanency planning. One other area of progress included the percentage of Looked After Children with Personal Education Plans.


Members were advised of areas for improvement within Children's Services. These included the need to improve the rate of statutory health assessments for Looked After Children and to work with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board around ways in which therapeutic needs for Looked After Children and care leavers could be met effectively and efficiently across health and social care.


With regard to leadership and governance within social services, the CSSIW had considered the unified Directorate service plan. This had set out how Social Services would deliver its part in achieving the Council's key outcomes and objectives, which were linked to the Corporate Plan 2013-17. The CSSIW had been able to attend three Scrutiny meetings and found that Scrutiny Members understood the complexities of issues put before them and provided an appropriate level of challenge. The CSSIW had noted that the Service achieved a balanced budget and, overall, the review found that quality assurance and performance management systems were in place and were adhered to. An area of improvement around leadership and governance was the need to progress the joint commissioning strategy for Mental Health Services.


Members were also advised that the CSSIW were undertaking a number of national inspections and reviews. These included a review of domiciliary care, services for people with learning difficulties and the care planning for Looked After Children.


The Committee was then given the opportunity to comment on the inspection and evaluation review and the following points were raised.


The Chairman began by referring to the need to find a solution with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board around the single point of contact for mental health clients. He commented that this was mainly the responsibility of the Health Board and he questioned whether the Welsh Government Minister and the Local Health Board were aware of the issues around this. In reply, the Regional Director stated that CSSIW evaluation reports would be shared with the Minister and also Health, and that this allowed for the creation of a platform in which issues could be highlighted.


In response to the Chairman's query regarding the need to improve Mental Health services for children and adolescents, the Regional Director stated that this had originally been highlighted by the CSSIW following a thematic review of the contribution made by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service to meet the needs of children and young people who were exhibiting risky behaviour across Wales. Since then, it had been identified that the situation had moved on and that a better service was being developed. Further to this, the Chairman also raised the issue of staff recruitment within the area of children's mental health services and was advised that the Welsh Government Minister would be aware of this.


The Committee also discussed the role of Health within this area and it was commented that this made a good case for closer integration and partnership working. To this, the Regional Director stated that across Wales all Local Authorities had good examples of integration and, in terms of the Vale; there were good foundations in place.


A Committee Member queried reasons why the percentage of clients with a care plan that should have been reviewed had decreased for a second year. In response, the Head of Adult Services stated that the number of reviews to be carried out was dependent upon the population of older people using social care services, which had grown. He explained, that the Service had prioritised 'first responder assessments' which had increased and this was where the Service had focused its energies. He further advised that the need to review care packages would be improved by reconfiguring social care work teams.


The Chairman asked if the officers from the CSSIW could comment on how well Local Authorities in Wales were prepared for the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The Regional Director stated that although Local Authorities were doing a good job to prepare for the Act, some were at different stages to others. She explained that there was evidence across Wales that not everything within the Act would be in place by 1st April, 2016.


As a final point on the CSSIW's evaluation, the Director of Social Services provided some of his thoughts. He stated that the Service valued the scrutiny from the CSSIW and the review by peers; and the relationship that existed was based on mutual respect. He outlined that the evaluation was an excellent reflection on the staff and the services, which also recognised the challenges that the Service faced. He was pleased that the CISSIW had validated the contents of the Director's Annual Report and he stated that all areas of improvement identified in the evaluation would be taken very seriously. In terms of collaboration, he commented that it had been recognised that good relations existed with the City of Cardiff Council and the Local Health Board and that going forward they would build on these further.


Having considered the report, the Scrutiny Committee




(1)                T H A T the key messages to emerge from the evaluation be noted.


(2)                T H A T Cabinet be advised of the outcomes of the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales' Annual Performance Evaluation and the areas of progress and improvement.


Reason for recommendations


(1&2)                To ensure that Members are kept informed about outcomes from independent evaluation of social services performance in the Vale of Glamorgan."


Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 30th November, 2015


Attached as Appendix - Presentation to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 30th November, 2015